• The future of professional work? The rise of the `network form¿ and the decline of discretion

      Grugulis, C. Irena; Vincent, S.; Hebson, G. (2003)
      This article explores the implications of `networked¿ and `flexible¿ organisations for the work and skills of professionals. Drawing on material from four different case studies it reviews work that is out-sourced (IT professionals and housing benefit caseworkers), work done by teachers contracted to a temporary employment agency and work done through an inter-firm network (chemical production workers). In each of these cases work that was out-sourced was managed very differently to that which was undertaken in-house, with managerial monitoring replacing and reducing employees¿ discretion. New staff in these networks had fewer skills when hired and were given access to a narrower range of skills than their predecessors. By contrast, the production staff employed on permanent contracts in the inter-firm network were given (and took) significant amounts of responsibility, with positive results for both their skills and the work processes. Despite these results, out-sourcing and sub-contracting are a far more common means of securing flexibility than organisational collaboration and the implications of this for skills is considered.